The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Election 2010

October 8, 2010

Demmer message: Invest in hope

NORTH MANKATO — On a day when the U.S. Labor Department announced worse-than-expected jobs numbers and an unemployment rate that’s stuck at 9.6 percent, Republican congressional candidate Randy Demmer was talking jobs at a North Mankato window manufacturer.

“Job creation is what people want to see,” said Demmer, a state representative who’s hoping to unseat Democratic Congressman Tim Walz on Nov. 2.

Demmer, a former farmer and business owner from Hayfield, said the Democratic-controlled federal government has passed health care reform and is attempting to pass a new national energy policy that has left business owners uncertain about future insurance and energy costs. If Republicans take control of Congress in the upcoming election, those employers will feel more confident in moving forward with delayed expansion projects.

“I think hope is something people will invest in,” he said.

Republican Congressman John Kline also is looking ahead to a possible GOP takeover of the U.S. House, something that would likely move him into the chairmanship of the Committee on Education and Labor.

Kline joined Demmer for three business-related events in southern Minnesota Friday, starting at Lindsay Window and Door on Commerce Drive.

Calling the contest between Walz and Demmer “a pretty tight race,” Kline said the choice is between a candidate who will support private businesses and one who supported policies like the “cap and trade” energy bill and the health care reform that many business owners opposed.

“We’ve got to change those job-killing policies, and Randy Demmer is the right guy to help us do that,” said Kline, whose 2nd District includes Le Sueur County.

Kline and Demmer both opposed a $787 billion stimulus bill aimed at creating jobs during the deep recession of recent years, and Republicans have pointed to the still-high unemployment rates as vindication of their opposition. Democrats and some nonpartisan analysts have said the bill was successful in keeping unemployment from rising even higher in a recession that began during the presidency of George W. Bush.

One component of the stimulus plan — $1,500 tax credits for investing in new energy efficient windows and other home improvements — is promoted on the Lindsay Window website.

“The stimulus package overall has helped our business through the $1,500 tax credit,” said Geoff Roise, vice president of operations at Lindsay.

But Roise said it’s unknown if the boost in the sales of replacement windows represents business that otherwise wouldn’t have existed or just an acceleration of sales that would have come anyway in the months and years ahead. And Roise and his father, company President John Roise, favor a smaller, less intrusive, less debt-ridden government.

“We obviously like to get the money,” Geoff Roise said. “But at the same time, we don’t know if it was a smart investment overall with our national debt.”

The health care law, unless one provision is amended, will force businesses to file tax forms for every $600-or-larger transaction they make, an administrative nightmare, Roise said. It could also drive up insurance costs, which would make it harder for the company’s employees — who have half of their health care costs paid by the company.

Along with offering their opinions, the Roises invited line employees to quiz Demmer and Kline.

Cleo Atkins of Mankato was the only one to accept the offer, asking Demmer about his party affiliation, his opinion on health care reform and his No. 1 priority if he’s elected.

Demmer said he opposes the health care law.

“I would support taking that bill and repealing it,” Demmer said.

Afterward, Atkins said he wasn’t persuaded yet.

“I’m going to check him out on the Internet. You’ve got to see the pros and cons,” said Atkins, who takes elections seriously. “It’s government that slams the door or opens it.”

While Demmer gave a clear answer on Atkins’ health care reform question, he waffled on one question from the Roises: the candidate’s opinion on double-hung vs. casement.

“I feel strongly both ways,” Demmer said.


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Election 2010